Independent International Auditors clear New Forests Company

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Independent International Auditors clear New Forests Company, dismiss Oxfam allegations

Kampala, December 14 2011 ÔÇô Independent international auditors who recently investigated allegations of wrong doing by the New Forests Company in Uganda, have given the sustainable and socially responsible forestry company a clean bill of health and dismissed allegations made by UK NGO Oxfam. The full report is available from the Forest Stewardship CouncilÔÇÖs
website.

Auditors working for Societe Generale Surveillance (SGS), the highly reputable international auditing company, visited Uganda in November 2011 to investigate allegations of land grabbing and forced eviction of people from government land. Oxfam alleged the people had legal land claims and had been maltreated by law enforcement agencies and members of the companyÔÇÖs 2,000 strong workforce.

The SGS consultants, auditing the company against best operating practises set out by the Forest Stewardship Council, said ÔÇ£there is widespread and adequate evidence and testimony from stakeholders that the eviction process was both extensively consultative and peacefulÔÇØ. The auditors also said those evicted did not have legal or customary rights to the land they were on and that they were there illegally; that the company mitigated the situation as best it could; and that NFC did try to offer compensation but the offer was rejected by Government. They also upheld the companyÔÇÖs statement that it had not been involved in the evictions.

The November audit follows five previous audits by four accredited international auditors. Previous audits had highlighted the companyÔÇÖs socially responsible business model; its work with the communities and the manner in which it handled a difficult situation of government voluntary vacation of illegal squatters on the land.

ENDS


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